We start things off with Triple H in the ring with Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox by his side. All of the superstars are standing on the stage, with The Shield standing guard at ringside as usual. Triple H makes mention of Cody Rhodes’s firing on Raw this past Monday, saying Cody was fired for “just cause”. He claims that Rhodes was insubordinate and disrespectful to the position of COO of the WWE, and that as the COO, he is the WWE. Triple H explained that he offered Cody Rhodes a chance to fight for his job, and he failed, saying that it pained him to have to fire Cody, as Cody was his friend. He then offers to have an open forum with the superstars on stage. Triple H assures them that they are welcome to air their grievances without fear of repercussions. Everyone seems reluctant to pipe up at first. Damien Sandow would finally step to the microphone at center stage, expressing his full support of the termination of Cody Rhodes. He would refer to Triple H as “our fearless leader”. Triple H says he’s not looking for them to kiss his butt. Kofi steps to the mic, and says that ever since Cody’s firing, the locker room has been living in fear. Triple H starts to respond but is interrupted by Heath Slater, who says he’s upset about the fact that Big Show hasn’t done anything, then goes on to thank Triple H for his vision and style. Triple H isn’t impressed with Heath Slater either, and asks for a real open and honest discussion. Rob Van Dam steps up, and says Hunter was the one that brought him back, and he was under the impression that things would be better, and the vibe in the locker room is not “not cool dude”. Triple H says he’s been waiting since 2000 to have RVD call him dude. Ryback chimes in and complains about people calling him a bully. Triple H agreed, and said it wasn’t Ryback’s fault that Ziggler was attacked prior to their match on Raw. He scheduled a rematch between the two for tonight. Triple H then turns his speech to Daniel Bryan, saying that his absence from the stage was indicative of his problem, his ego. He then gave Daniel Bryan his choice of opponent for the night from among the members of The Shield. Triple H rewarded Kofi Kingston for speaking up by booking a non-title match with the Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel. RVD would get his opportunity as well, when Triple H set a match between RVD and Randy Orton, which would start right away.
Match 1: Rob Van Dam w/ Ricardo Rodriguez vs. WWE Champion Randy Orton
The last time these two men faced off on Smackdown, they put on a heck of a show. Their match opened that night as it does tonight, the difference being that Orton is now WWE Champion, and the World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio is sitting at ringside. RVD and Alberto Del Rio will face off at Night of Champions. RVD would put on an impressive offensive display early on. Randy would get his licks in eventually, delivering a power slam to RVD to counter the rolling thunder, showing everyone why he is the WWE Champion. Rob Van Dam would make a comeback, and nearly nail Orton with the 5 star frog splash, but Randy rolled out of the way at the last minute. Alberto Del Rio made his presence felt, when he sent Ricardo Rodriguez slamming into the ring post, RVD would become distracted as he went after Del Rio with a flip over the top rope, sending both men crashing to the floor. Orton capitalized, sending RVD into the announce table, and then delivering a DDT from the apron to the floor. Randy rolled Van Dam back into the ring, and then delivered the RKO, and got the pinfall.
Winner: Randy Orton
Alberto Del Rio took advantage of a fallen RVD, and attacked a helpless Rob Van Dam. Building up to the PPV, I would anticipate some payback from RVD this Monday.
Renee Young caught up with Daniel Bryan backstage. Daniel responded to Triple H’s claim that Bryan’s absence from the stage earlier in the show was due to his ego. Bryan explained that he was informed by management not to attend because he “wasn’t invited”. He would then address his choice for his opponent tonight, saying that he will let The Shield decide who gets beaten up first, because he is sure that the match won’t be one on one.
There was a backstage segment with AJ Lee and some of the other Diva’s, where AJ would stir up some jealousy among the girls aimed at the participants of the title match set for Night of Champions.
Match 2: Dolph Ziggler vs. Ryback
Dolph Ziggler’s speed and agility proved to be advantageous to start this one off. Ryback was over the top rope within seconds of the start, but he would get back in quickly and gain control by avoiding a splash in the corner. Dean Ambrose would surprise Michael Cole and JBL by joining the announce team. Dean Ambrose said that his attack on Ziggler this past Monday was in response to Dolph disrespecting the business. Michael Cole asked Ambrose whether or not The Shield was working for Triple H. Ambrose replied that The Shield works for The Shield, and they do what’s best for business. Apparently it’s the phrase of the season. Dolph would go after Ambrose but Ryback would catch him with a clothesline on the outside. Ziggler would get tossed back into the ring and suffer a shell shock from Ryback, who got the pinfall.
It’s nice to finally get an answer to my questions regarding the relationship between Triple H and The Shield, even if that answer didn’t explain anything. I like the heat coming from the Ziggler/Ambrose feud. That match might steal the show come Night of Champions.
Match 3: Kofi Kingston vs. Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel w/ Paul Heyman
Curtis Axel comes out to a hug pop and a “welcome home” from the crowd. This match doesn’t do anything for the build to his match against C.M. Punk at Night of Champions, but it does give Kofi a chance to get back in the title picture. The match started off quite methodical, with both attempting to gain control of the other with some classic mat work. Axel was had the crowd behind him, but fate wasn’t on his side, as Kofi would land the SOS on Axel and get the win.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Paul Heyman stood at ringside in disbelief, contemplating what will happen to him at Night of Champions, if Axel gets pinned by Punk. Renee Young caught up with Heyman back stage and asked him if he was concerned about what will happen to him if Axel does lose to Punk at NOC. Heyman said tonight was an oversight. That they looked past Kofi, and they will be focused on Punk come NOC.
Match 4: Naomi vs. Brie Bella
Cameron, Eve, and Nikki were at ringside. The match would end when AJ and the other Divas attacked the group Total Divas group.
Result: No Contest
Match 5: The Usos vs. The Real Americans
The Real Americans would dominate this match for the most part, getting the win when Swagger shoved Jimmy off the top rope and Cesaro caught him with a European uppercut.
Winner: The Real Americans
Big Show and Triple H are back stage. Triple H tells Big Show that he can let out some of his rage in a three on one handicap match against 3MB.
Match 6: Big Show vs. 3MB
Big Show destroyed 3MB. There are no other words to describe it. It was complete destruction. Big Show delivered a double chokeslam to Drew Mcyntire and Jinder Mahal, before nailing Slater with a KO punch and getting the win.
Winner: Big Show
The Shield made their entrance while Big Show was exiting. Big Show turned like he was ready for a fight, but Triple H would come out to retrieve the giant.
Match 7: Daniel Bryan vs. Seth Rollins
Bryan didn’t know who he was facing until the start of the match. It appeared as though Roman Reigns would be his opponent, but Seth Rollins would get the jump on Bryan, and the match would begin. Daniel Bryan would get control quickly. Both men would go over the top rope, but Daniel couldn’t attack on the outside, as Ambrose and Reigns were closing in. They gave Rollins the chance to recover, and he would punish Bryan for his lack of concentration. Bryan would finally strike back with a wicked German suplex, followed up by a huge missile dropkick. Rollins stalled Bryan’s advance with a kick to Bryan’s head while he was on the top rope, sending him to the floor. Rollins distracted the ref while Reigns hit Bryan with a clothesline. Rollins would attempt a move from the top rope, only to be caught in the Yes! lock. Ambrose and Reigns would cause a distraction, and they would pay for their troubles as Daniel Bryan unleashed a fury on the Trio, finally hitting Seth Rollins with the flying knee, and getting the victory.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan was celebrating on stage when he was attacked from behind by Orton, who nailed Bryan with the belt. The show ended with Randy raising the title as he stood over Bryan
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I feel like this storyline has taken over the entire WWE, pushing other guys to the back burner. I also don’t thinks it’s “best for business” that every show ends with Bryan face down and Randy celebrating. A little back and forth in that area would do this story wonders.
Until next week.